ONE of England's most important queens could be among the bones in the mortuary chests of Winchester Cathedral.

Researchers have revealed that Queen Emma, the Anglo-Saxon mother of two kings and consort of two others, is likely to be among the bones of Anglo-Saxon and Norman kings and bishops held in wooden boxes for some 1,000 years.

The results have been revealed as the Cathedral launches its £11m Kings and Scribes; The Birth of a Nation exhibition project next week.

Archaeologists and scientists from Bristol University have been analysing the bones since 2015, the first time they have been scientifically examined, and gradually unlocking the secrets.

Professor Kate Robson Brown, who led the investigation, said: "We cannot be certain of the identity of each individual yet, but we are certain that this is a very special assemblage of bones."

The cathedral says the remains could be those of Queen Emma, 985-1052, daughter of Richard I, Duke of Normandy, the wife of two successive Kings of England, Ethelred and Cnut, and the mother of King Edward the Confessor and King Hardacnut.

She was a powerful political figure in late Saxon England, and her family ties provided William the Conqueror with a measure of justification for his claim to the English throne in 1066.

She is the only woman named in the records as being in the chests and analysis has shown only one female.

Helping the research is the fact that the kings and queens ate large amounts of fish which can be more easily identified.

Further DNA analysis will be done on the bones.

Completely unexpected was the discovery of two juvenile skeletons, adolescent boys who had died between the ages of 10 to 15 years in the mid-11th to late 12th-century. Their presence in the chests was not recorded and their identity is still unknown, but they were almost certainly of royal blood.

The public can find out more about the research from May 21 when Kings and Scribes opens.

The bones of the female skeleton have been 3D printed and laid out as a key exhibit in the exhibition.

The cathedral is confident that more developments will be revealed over time as the investigation to identify the individuals in the chests continues.

The six mortuary chests are displayed high on stone screen walls either the side of the high altar area.